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Trip Philosophy

How and why we lead trips & Field Ethics and Expectations for Trip Leaders & American Birding Association Principles of Birding Ethics

Portland Audubon's Trip Philosophy

  • First and foremost be safe and have fun! 
  • Our measure of a great trip is not just how many birds were seen but how many birds were seen well by everyone. 
  • Birds are cool, and so are snakes and lizards, mammals, invertebrates, plants and rocks.   With birds as our focus we also want to learn about the environment they live in.
  • No matter what level of birding skill a participant arrives with, we want to provide the opportunity and assistance to increase their skill level a comfortable notch or two.
  • We strive to create a positive group dynamic that makes each participant feel welcome, comfortable and informed throughout the trip. 
  • We model best practices in the field and interact with nature in a respectful manner.  See our Field Ethics and Expectations for our leaders below:

Field Ethics and Expectations for Audubon Society of Portland Field Trip Leaders

The fundamental goals of an Audubon Society of Portland outing are to “provide people with the opportunity to connect with nature so that they may better enjoy, understand, and ultimately protect the biological diversity of the Pacific Northwest as well as the other parts of the world we may visit on longer trips and tours.” 

It is necessary for Portland Audubon field trip leaders (employees and volunteers) to model best practices while birding in the field, as participants will take what they see and learn on an Audubon outing as the best and correct way to do things.  We ask Portland Audubon field trip leaders to focus on helping participants: 

            1)  develop observation  and birding skills

            2)  gain knowledge of bird habits and habitat

            3)  develop an ability to describe the habitat and location of bird(s)

            4)  model an attitude of respect and humility towards nature

We strongly believe these elements are an essential part of providing the opportunity for people to connect with the natural world in that they serve to engage participants in a process of building their field skills and developing a relationship with nature.   

Expectations:

Leaders of Audubon Outings, Ecotours and Adult Classes should be familiar with the American Birding Association Code of Birding Ethics and adhere to them.

Audio Recordings:  We do not advocate use of audio recordings.  Our philosophy is that a thoughtful and well implemented effort at viewing a bird can succeed without the use of audio recordings and that such efforts, whether successful or not, are part of the experience we want to provide our participants.  That said, there are a very limited number of cases where use of audio recordings may be considered appropriate:  Owling, attempting to see a very secretive species in a remote area, trying to verify the identity of a suspected unusual/out-of-range species. 

At a minimum, use of sound recordings will be accompanied by a clear explanation of what it is, how it works and why it is being used. This explanation should cover potential harm to the birds that could result from their misuse.  Leaders need to discuss their planned use of audio recordings with Audubon Adult Education Staff ahead of time and need to discuss unplanned uses after the fact.  These discussions between field trip leaders and Audubon staff are meant to ensure a consistent and high level of thoughtfulness behind our actions as an organization as well as knowledge of situations that are being encountered in the field which can continue to inform our policies. 

Use of pishing and other organic productions of sounds to attract birds:  These are acceptable within the limits stated in the ABA Code of Birding Ethics:  “To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.  Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.”  It is our collective experience that pishing elicits a dramatically different response from the bird: one of mild curiosity rather than energetic defense of territory, as is often seen when audio recordings of bird calls are used.

Laser pointers:  We ask that trip leaders refrain from using laser pointers in any and all situations.  We believe laser pointers are not an effective way of achieving the goals of an Audubon Society of Portland field outing. 

We expect all leaders of Portland Audubon Outings, Ecotours and Adult Classes to have a clear understanding of, and to adhere to, ABA Birding Ethics and the Field Ethics and Expectations described above.

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American Birding Association Principles of Birding Ethics

Everyone who enjoys birds and birding must always respect wildlife, its environment, and the rights of others. In any conflict of interest between birds and birders, the welfare of the birds and their environment comes first.

Code of Birding Ethics

1. Promote the welfare of birds and their environment.

1 (a) Support the protection of important bird habitat.

1 (b) To avoid stressing birds or exposing them to danger, exercise restraint and caution during observation, photography, sound recording, or filming.

  Limit the use of recordings and other methods of attracting birds, and never use such methods in heavily birded areas or for attracting any species that is Threatened, Endangered, or of Special Concern, or is rare in your local area.

  Keep well back from nests and nesting colonies, roosts, display areas, and important feeding sites. In such sensitive areas, if there is a need for extended observation, photography, filming, or recording, try to use a blind or hide, and take advantage of natural cover.  Use artificial light sparingly for filming or photography, especially for close-ups.

1 (c) Before advertising the presence of a rare bird, evaluate the potential for disturbance to the bird, its surroundings, and other people in the area, and proceed only if access can be controlled, disturbance can be minimized, and permission has been obtained from private land-owners. The sites of rare nesting birds should be divulged only to the proper conservation authorities.

1 (d) Stay on roads, trails, and paths where they exist; otherwise keep habitat disturbance to a minimum.

2. Respect the law and the rights of others.

2 (a) Do not enter private property without the owner’s explicit permission.

2 (b) Follow all laws, rules, and regulations governing use of roads and public areas, both at home and abroad.

2 (c) Practice common courtesy in contacts with other people. Your exemplary behavior will generate goodwill with birders and non-birders alike.

3. Ensure that feeders, nest structures, and other artificial bird environments are safe.

3 (a) Keep dispensers, water, and food clean and free of decay or disease. It is important to feed birds continually during harsh weather.

3 (b) Maintain and clean nest structures regularly.

3 (c) If you are attracting birds to an area, ensure the birds are not exposed to predation from cats and other domestic animals, or dangers posed by artificial hazards.

4. Group birding, whether organized or impromptu, requires special care.

Each individual in the group, in addition to the obligations spelled out in Items #1 and #2, has

responsibilities as a Group Member.

4 (a) Respect the interests, rights, and skills of fellow birders, as well as those of people participating in other legitimate outdoor activities. Freely share your knowledge and experience, except where code 1(c) applies. Be especially helpful to beginning birders.

4 (b) If you witness unethical birding behavior, assess the situation and intervene if you think it prudent. When interceding, inform the person(s) of the inappropriate action and attempt, within reason, to have it stopped. If the behavior continues, document it and notify appropriate individuals or organizations.

Group Leader Responsibilities

[amateur and professional trips and tours].

4 (c) Be an exemplary ethical role model for the group. Teach through word and example.

4 (d) Keep groups to a size that limits impact on the environment and does not interfere with others using the same area.

4 (e) Ensure everyone in the group knows of and practices this code.

4 (f) Learn and inform the group of any special circumstances applicable to the areas being visited (eg, no tape recorders allowed).

4 (g) Acknowledge that professional tour companies bear a special responsibility to place the welfare of birds and the benefits of public knowledge ahead of the company’s commercial interests. Ideally, leaders should keep track of tour sightings, document unusual occurrences, and submit records to appropriate organizations.

Please follow this code—distribute it and teach it to others.

Additional copies of the Code of Birding Ethics can be obtained from ABA. The ABA Code of Birding Ethics may be reprinted, reproduced, and distributed without restriction. Please acknowledge the role of ABA in developing and promoting this code.

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